Tuesday, June 2, 2015


The Cortland Democrat, Friday, April 11, 1890.

The Griswold Case.
The Trial Concluded—Convicted of Manslaughter in the First Degree—To be Sentenced Next Tuesday.
   A continuance of yesterday's line of evidence was followed at first then Edward W. Hyatt testified to being a clerk in Franklin Pierce's law office, and that early in February he took a letter to Griswold in the jail requesting a statement of his life. Griswold replied that he did not desire to go into the details until after the trial and he got out, when he would make counsel a present. Also that he had thought since the trial began he had, by the aid of his mesmeric powers controlled Daniel O'Shea to the extent of drawing a very crooked statement from him while on the stand. Further that he wanted his seat in the Bar in such a position that he could plainly see the twelve jurors and work on them.
   David Griswold, a son of the prisoner told of the unique doings of his father when he (witness) was only 13 years of age; the constructing of the novel buckboard, plays upon horse's heads, etc.; of similar doings at McLean when growing the "Griswold Seedlings." Remonstrating with his father for this strange, as he termed it, conduct was told he done so because he wanted to; that he had heard his father in jail tell that he had refused to relate his history correctly to Dr. Jewett, of this village, assigning as a reason that the doctor's son, the jeweler, was against him. The wagon in question was an old fashioned, eliptic spring one, the upper half of spring being removed, to sticks extending from both ends of front to corresponding rear one, being fastened with wire. Upon this was placed a barn door to form the wagon bottom, sides and ends were added, a place to seat a person rudely constructed and the gig was complete.
   Robert W. Griswold, Jr., was next called. He said: I am son of the defendant and 23 years of age; have lived on the Carpenter farm since November 1,1888, when my brother Jay left the place. The cows had been in my lot on several occasions in the fore part of summer of 1889, and were in about one week before the day of shooting O'Shea, but there had been no trouble that year as we drove them out with a dog and they usually went home or off our premises; sometimes we called to O'Shea, if in sight to get them out and he sent a little son of his for them, there were no threats made in that year against O'Shea by my father. On the morning of the 24th of September I arose, kindled the fire and milked my cows; after finishing, I prepared for breakfast my mother telling me that father was up in the orchard. As father came to the house he remarked he would like a photograph of the fields with their bounteous crop; I replied he would get a very good result if O'Shea's cows got in any more. Relating circumstances connected with his father going up said: I would go up and he might go to the village after groceries, flour, etc., which were greatly needed for dinner, as I was in a great hurry with my fall work and had no time; he said he would go up and tell O'Shea to keep his cows off; went a rod or two, came back and I just saw the muzzle of a gun as he went out the door, this was while I was eating my breakfast. My brother asked him where he was going with the gun; father said to hunt a little as he came back. I then went out and sawed some wood and later heard a sound and beard the barking of dogs, listened for a moment and resumed my work continuing it until about nine o'clock when mother came and said father wanted me to hitch the horse on buggy and take a tub of butter to Cortland at once; thought this queer as tub was only partially filled; shortly after I hitched up and my mother started toward Cortland.
   Three men then came down the field from direction of O'Shea's and enquired for father; I had not seen him; they wanted to know if gun was in the house; said I presumed so; when they wished to take the gun I refused and held to one end of it. This took place while mother was getting ready and 1 told her if any of them tried to stop her to keep right on. Heard that O'Shea was shot about 12 o'clock. Father was in the habit of carrying a gun when in lot, to shoot a hawk which had caught some chickens, did not see father.
   Witness was inclined to be contradictory on the cross finally admitted his suspicion of result when he heard the early shot. Told the men when looking at gun, there is a fresh cap in it as you can see.
   Mrs. Griswold testified to the prisoner going to O'Shea's residence on September 24, and returning with his gun which he loaded before starting for Cortland.
   Richard Egbertson, of Preble, said Mrs. O'Shea said that at the time of the shooting Daniel was upstairs sick.
   Dr. Simeon P. Clark testified as follows: I am a physician and surgeon; have had 20 years practice. I am a surgeon of the Erie railroad and teacher of medical  jurisprudence in the Niagara University. I have made insanity and diseases of the mind a special study. I would say that a shot after leaving a gun usually pursues the same direction as aimed and does not have a downward tendency after entering a human body when deflected by some hard substance. Many authors place hereditary taint of insanity as high as 75 per cent. It is the chief predisposing cause of insanity. It is a fact that insane persons sleep poorly. I saw the defendant, Mr. Griswold, first on January 31, 1889. I examined him and held conversations with him. He had no confidence in his counsel because they were trying to keep his trial off. He had no anxiety regarding the result. It would not take five minutes to settle his case. He would go before the jury and tell the truth, and the Judge would say “Let the old man go!” He didn’t need any counsel. He would take care of his own case. Nature had designed him for a great criminal lawyer and detective. I found him an old looking man for his years. When I asked him why he requested the Judge not to allow insanity to interfere in his case, he said the insane have no future and I prefer death to being declared insane, had fought rum and tobacco for 40 years and God would deliver him. He said if he was to be executed he would make a great speech from the scaffold, but when told he would be executed by electricity in private he at once changed in tone and appearance and said it was a shame to the State of New York. He then told how a 'still small voice' sometimes came to him.
   I heard him sworn on the trial and have closely observed him during the trial; have heard the testimony of witnesses. Taking into account all of these facts, also that his father and sister were insane, and that a marked change came over him since his 30th year, and the whole account of his in life, I believe he is an insane man. From such a record and my observation it is extremely doubtful that he realized the nature of the crime charged.
   Dr G. D. Bradford, practicing physician and surgeon for fourteen years and for the past four years one of the county coroners, residing at Homer; had given the subject of diseases of the mind and tendency toward insanity considerable attention and had been called as an expert in such cases; for three years had been county insane physician having a yearly average of between 35 and 40 cases in asylum. Knew defendant by sight for past 15 years frequently meeting him in riding about the county, observed his strange actions. Had been called to examine the prisoner in county jail on Nov. 7, '89, in company with Dr. Jewett. Dec. 14, with Drs. Clark and Jewett and lawyer Pierce, January 15, '90, with Dr. Jewett, and on the 30th the same party as on Dec. 14. The object of interviews was to ascertain mental condition of defendant; my impression from the first visit was that he was a feeble, premature man, further advanced in decay than ordinary in a man of his age; we made a physical examination, inquired into his life, his business and social relations.
   Prisoner stated that he had always been a great reader and was confident that if he had pursued study would have been a great doctor or a lawyer. Upon question by counsel witness stated his doubt as to his success as a doctor but thought he might made a fair lawyer. To an inquiry as being thus proficient why he should have landed in jail replied, that had things been as they should he would not have been there, was not satisfied with early marriage—but gave no reason; expressed distrust of Dr. Jewett.
   When questioned as to traces of nervous disease in the family said there was nothing of the kind in the old Griswold stock; it was as good as any in Connecticut. His very indifferent manner in Court and over confident anticipation over the result of trial—remarking that as soon as story was told that Court would dismiss him and he go home. Had knowledge that at one time a sister had been an inmate of an asylum, did not know reason; declared himself to be sane and did not want to go out of the world as a lunatic since latter class had no future, hence no progression for them. Thought of Jay's (son) testimony as there had been trouble over money matters. While living in Pennsylvania heard a still, small voice warning him of approaching danger, awoke near midnight in time to thwart the designs of roughs in attacking his car. Witness' opinion that defendant was insane at time of shooting.
   After recalling Dr. Jewett, the prisoner and Mrs. Griswold on single questions, at 11:26 defendant's counsel announced that with the single exception of calling a witness in rebuttal on recent target experiments if introduced, that
   The people reopened their case swearing about 20 witnesses on the question of good reputation of deceased both in Cortland and Cayuga counties many testifying that they never heard any derogatory statements previous to those sworn to in the Court—that being their knowledge of bad, fighting character. Other witnesses who were present on the day of and next succeeding the shooting swore they never heard Daniel O'Shea state that his father was only 2 or 2 1/2  feet from muzzle of gun when Griswold shot him.
   Thomas Butler said: reside in Preble and was a near neighbor of Mr. O'Shea at time of shooting; was the first outside of family to reach the injured man (about ten minutes after report of the gun). Mrs. O'Shea was near their house when I got there and followed me down the path; I saw no weapons of any description either on person or lying about deceased; could see the window (point B in diagram printed in last week's DEMOCRAT), plainly.
   Cross-examination elicited the statement that on the afternoon of the 25th of September witness made observations both from B to A and D, also from A, D to B as he expected to be called as witness when the trial came; object in looking from B to A and D was to satisfy himself on view—thought there might be some obstruction but found none.
   Mrs. Catherine Butler testified to arriving at the side of deceased shortly after Thomas Butler. Mrs. O'Shea was there. I examined the clothes of deceased closely to ascertain whether he had any weapons of if he would live. The coat was shown witness, she thought it was the same as worn by Mr. O'Shea on the 24th of September, only on that day it appeared to be darker or damp like near the place shot entered, but saw no blood—did not look for blood.
   Franklin Jones recalled, said: He could see lower part of window at B plainly from A or D. but thought that six feet further down the road could not have seen the window.
   James Manchester, one of the coroner's jury, had made tests on the question of looking from B to A and D, and could see faces. When cross-examined said he had to look through branches of trees and one might not be accurate in observing an affray at the latter points.
   Frank J. Collier, of Preble, said a few feet diversion from line of vision would obstruct vision; might obtain a clear view from point C if on top of fence. Stated on the cross that he thought the view from window at B a doubtful question.
   George Masters said that any body looking from D or A could see B very plainly.
   H. W. Beardsley recalled, gave evidence of tests made on the 29th of September last from all points and could see persons clearly, and hear a conversation in an ordinary tone of voice. Was present when Dan made a run from B to C, going south of barn as claimed he did on the 24th. The time was 19 seconds by the watch. On Monday, 7th inst., in company with J. D. F. Woolston made a map showing the slope of ground at place where shooting occurred.
   J. D. F. Woolston testified to being present with Mr. Beardsley, who pointed out on the earth's surface the points designated on People's map at A and D; took level and found the point where O'Shea is said to have stood when shot to be 24 inches above D, and point A (where body lay) to be 37 inches higher, map was offered in evidence. The level was ascertained at intervals of two feet between D and A, the level varying from 1 2-10 to 24 5-10 inches. Witness stated that if a person moved 4 feet either side of line of vision between D and B was very doubtful as to ability to see window.
   Mr. Beardsley, recalled: was sure he pointed out the two places, D and A, as indicated on original map.
   Fred Barrett, of Virgil: In April Mr. Griswold was at my house on two occasions and in the presence of Cas. M. Smith and son LeRoy on last visit I heard part of a conversation by defendant over trouble with O'Shea over a line fence and cows getting on his (defendant's) land; heard him say, "he would take back a pitchfork as it was a good weapon to have," also "if he comes near me I'd have it right by my side." "I'd jam it right through him; just as soon kill him as look at him."
   Cross-examined: I made no memorandum of event, but think I have given his words correctly; I was passing in and out of the room at the time of this conversation; I was doing my chores about the place; do not know as 1 have told it to any one unless to Billy P. Messible.
   Daniel O'Shea, recalled: I never said to J. B. Curry or any one else that father was only 2 1/2 feet from muzzle of gun. The course I run over on the 29th of September was the same as I took on the 24th when I viewed the shooting from C.
   F. A. Bickford, for 17 years a gunsmith and at present manager of the telephone service in this village testified to making a target for People on Wednesday inst., in company with Messrs. Cleveland, Dunsmore, Strowbridge and others, using the same sizes of shot found in body of deceased and exhibited in Court. The shot, 3 in number, as shown were of two sizes—2 B and 2 BB, explained to Court that when 30 shot were used it was in proportion of 10 B to 20 BB. Gave result of tests as follows: No. 1 at 2 feet charge 1 1/4 draws powder, 30 shot, (paper target set on fire by powder). No. 2 was at distance of two feet, 2 1/2 draws, 30 shot, using a dry cloth target which also caught fire. No. 3 same distance and powder 1 oz. shot, (at this point witness explained that target No. 3 and all following were cloth thoroughly wet before using), No. 4, 2 1/2 draws, 30 shot at 4 feet powder stains, No. 5 same distance and amount of powder, 1 oz. shot, making an inch hole in the target and leaving powder stains.
   A juryman asked if a wet cloth would retain powder stains more clearly than a dry one? Witness replied that it would. No. 6 and 7 at a distance of 6 feet with the same quantity of powder 30 shot and 1 oz. repeatedly made about the same hole and discoloration on target. Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 targets were conditionally loaded the same at range as 8 and 10 feet still staining target. In answer to question by Court witness stated that 30 shot were equivalent to 3/4 of an oz. Other tests were made at 15 ft. and at distances of 2, 4, 6 and 8 feet upon leg off a pair of pantaloons which were not shown until ordered in evidence by the Court at solicitation of counsel for defense. Shot naturally tend to scatter more in charges of 1 oz. than in 30 shot.
   Cross-examined: The targets were placed upon a planed hemlock board and, I think, could not swear positively, upon a soft wood; noticed that some shot had passed through target in one instance; in part of test the shot were slightly imbedded in the wood and some did not cut the fibre of the cloth. Did not wet cloth for the purpose of retaining stains, but to avoid burning; the matter of wadding used was guess work—about the quantity a farmer would use. Result on pants was black at 2 feet; 4 and 6 feet stain considerable and at 8 the powder could be brushed off by the hand.
   Bartholemew O'Shea recalled, said his father at time of death stood 5 feet 6 inches in height and weighed from 140 to 145 pounds.
   H. G. Borthwick as Sheriff, was recalled to testify that he had supervision of the feeding of prisoners and had noticed nothing in the line of singing or dancing on part of defendant until about six weeks before trial.
   Fred Sandford, of McLean, told of a conversation with Griswold some 6 or 7 years ago but had not heard his name mentioned in that period. Had heard that one O'Shea sent a boy to drive out the cows and that Griswold had chased O'Shea out of the fields with a club.
   John Dobbins, Preble, knew both parties his land adjoining them; heard Griswold talk about O'Shea in my pasture lot in May last. He said O'Shea's cows had got into his lot over the fence between my lot and his meadow, and that if ever that man (referring to deceased) come into his lot again he would shoot him. On his cross-examination said that he never told J. P. Currie that if he was a witness against the O'Shea family he would never get an Irish vote again; made no reply to Griswold's remark but walked off about his own work.
   L. D. Garrison being sworn testified that defendant left a quantity of potatoes at his store in this village, four or five years ago, to be sold. They were called the "Griswold Seedling" and, he thought, he sold them to farmers at 50 cts. per peck.
   Asa J. White, a practicing physician and surgeon of this village with an experience of 27 years had experience in the surgical line during the late civil war of 63-5; was somewhat acquainted with gunshot wounds. Some suppository evidence here given was ruled out by the Court. Stated that the course of shot entering a human body at the point as claimed in case of deceased would be liable to come in contact with two or three cartilages, one or two ribs aside from the soft structures of the body which might tend to deflect their course.
   Robert Griswold, Jr., recalled, said that he was the person who carried the gun shown in Court to Mr. Pierce.
   Daniel O'Shea, being recalled, swore that about 9 A. M., on the 25th of September be was sworn and gave evidence on the shooting before a justice of the peace in Preble village, returning home between 4 and 5 P. M.
   Dr. William J. Moore, testified to having practiced physics and surgery for ten years; had been jail physician and judging from all he had seen of defendant in jail and Court room he would not hesitate to pronounce him sane.
   Dr. A. J. White, recalled, stated that on the 12th day of November last in company with Drs. Dana and McDonald made a diagnosis of the prisoner in a private room of the Court house an officer in attendance. Physical examination showed the pulse at 80—quite normal. Eye in good condition for a man of his age. Ear devoid of lump which is found in cases of chronic insanity and facial expressions in perfect harmony—the facial folds would be more marked in tendency to insanity. Tongue in healthy condition—not coated. Replying to questions, touching family matters Griswold said his grandmother died of old age at age of 80 years; was not aware "any of my relatives had fits or insane;" he never was troubled with headache unless he went without his regular food; asserted his deep interest in his approaching trial and was aiding his counsel in every possible manner; declared it a disgrace to be adjudged insane, had rather die; believed in a hereafter to certain extent. In company with Dr. McDonald visited the prisoner last night—found him writing; he received us politely and in a firm but gentlemanly manner declined to be interviewed. From all facts and incidents attached to his life considered the prisoner a sane man.
   Dr. H. T. Dana gave a clear, concise definition of insanity stating that from thorough examination of one's life he could judge of the sanity or insanity of the person. Would attach very little significance to the ''still, small voice" theory as a factor of hallucination as it has a more direct reference to faith— it is perception. Barely possible to class it as contributory factor of derangement. Substantiated the examination of Dr. White and though crossed and re-crossed witness was not shaken from his views.
   Carlos F. McDonald, M. D., of New York city and present chairman of the board of State commissioners in lunacy, said: For 21 years he had been a physician and made diseases of the mind and nervous system a special study. Since 1870 had been connected with insane institutions of the State and during the last year had observed the insane in State institutions—between 15,000 and 16,000 unfortunates. At the request of District Attorney came to Cortland and made examination of defendant with Drs. Dana and White, as above stated, found the hair natural while in cases of insanity the hair is more stiff and erect—known as electrical; made special note of manner, appearance and conversation of the prisoner, failing to observe any indication of insanity. The only difference of manner being his refusal to be interviewed in jail last evening. Witness would not classify the actions of defendant as a basis of insanity; knew of cases where insane persons after committing a crime would deliver themselves up to justice and of others who endeavored to conceal their crime and attempt to affect an escape. In cases of chronic mania of 30 years duration would hardly expect to find a workman
of very great skill; his condition of surviving that period, to be far advanced in dementia—a rarely exceptional; the average life period in such cases being 12 years.
   I failed to find any evidence of delusion in the defendant on any of my visits to him. To the hypothetical question he answered that in his opinion, should say that defendant was sane, and knew the nature and quality of the crime, recognizing the moral quality of right and wrong. The odd, somewhat eccentric deviation from general course was a love of notoriety to attract attention to self. Witness attached no weight to sister's insanity, as reported, not knowing the cause, might result from blow on the head, child birth or other accident. It is of utmost importance to know direct cause to determine value of claim.
   Cross examined: The witness did not regard Dr. Beard as a valuable prominent author, also that Tuke required much revision to bring him in harmony with present day. Could not conclude that a person can be sane one moment, become insane and commit a crime the next and immediately become sane again.
   Burnett E. Miller. related the circumstance of brushing powder from pants target at armory; and the evidence closed at 4:30 P. M.
   [To be continued--CC editor.]

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